Dapo Abiodun; Ibikunle Amosun

Amosun, Abiodun feud unsettling Ogun APC

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The disagreement between the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, and his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, may form the basis for the outcome of the 2023 governorship election in the state, writes DAUD OLATUNJI

Forty-eight hours after the former governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, issued a perceived political threat to his successor, Dapo Abiodun, about the governor’s impending loss at the poll, strong indications emerged that Amosun and his loyalists in the All Progressives Congress had concluded plans to refloat the Allied Peoples Movement ahead of the 2023 elections.

The APM, which failed to defeat Abiodun in the last governorship election in the state, was said to have been reactivated by Amosun, who would remain in the APC. Dramatically, the APM slipped from Amosun’s hand as the party was smartly taken away from his grip by his former loyalists in the Peoples Democratic Party. The development almost thwarted the ex-governor’s plan to sponsor a candidate against the incumbent ahead of next year’s governorship poll.

Twenty-four hours to the deadline of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the substitution of candidates’ names, the APM Chairman, Kehinde Sotayo, and the governorship candidate disappeared into thin air. The candidate, Olutosin Jolaoluwa, went ahead and released a statement denying withdrawing for Amosun’s preferred candidate, Biyi Otegbeye.

Our correspondent gathered that an agreement had been struck earlier between Amosun through a proxy and the leadership of the APM, but the party had to make a U-turn 24 hours to INEC’s deadline. As a smart politician, Amosun was said to have secured the structure of the African Democratic Congress and had to quickly switch to the party, having lost the APM.

It was reliably gathered that Amosun settled for Otegbeye as the governorship candidate from Ogun West, the zone that has never produced a governor since the creation of the state in 1976. According to a party leader in Amosun’s camp, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Otegbeye, a businessman, an insurance expert and a former governorship aspirant on the platform of the APC, has been chosen to be the governorship candidate of the ADC.

Otegbeye, a Law graduate of Lagos State University, is the Managing Director of Regence Alliance Insurance Plc from 2011 till date. The source, however, said Amosun had discussed with the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on the plan to work for him during the election, while he would throw his support behind Otegbeye, the ADC candidate, against the second term ambition of Abiodun.

Akinlade, who was Amosun’s preferred governorship candidate after his failure to clinch the ticket on the platform of the APC in the state, prompted the ex-governor to use the APM platform in 2019 and lost the election with over 19,000 votes to Abiodun. Recall that in 2019, Amosun, who was on the ballot as the candidate for the Ogun Central Senatorial District on the platform of the APC, openly led the APM campaign across the state. Ironically, Akinlade defected to the opposition PDP and became the party’s deputy governorship candidate.

Long before now, many political watchers had thought that Amosun gave his blessing to Akinlade’s decision to join the PDP. But the recent political arrangement shows that Akinlade is on his own with the defection. Some loyalists of the former governor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blamed both Amosun and Akinlade for the action. While some blamed Akinlade for being desperate to have gone to the PDP without the express permission and support of his former boss, others condemned the former governor’s action, which they described as confusing.

According to them, Amosun had gathered his loyalists a few weeks after the APC primary election, where they were all allegedly sidelined and told those who wanted to aspire to go ahead and actualise their ambition on any platform available. It was gathered that the statement spurred some of the loyalists to defect to the PDP and the Labour Party. Both Akinlade and Otegbeye had slugged it out with Abiodun during the APC governorship primaries, with zero votes recorded for them.

A top leader in Amosun’s camp, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told our correspondent that nomination forms had been filled by the candidates, having negotiated with the ADC candidates, who willingly gave their tickets to Amosun’s loyalists. However, the polity has been heated up following a statement made by the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, who declared that Yewa people had conceded the ticket to Abiodun. The paramount ruler further said that the region was not in a hurry to produce a governor in the coming election against Abiodun’s ambition. The statement caused disagreement among supporters of Otegbeye and Abiodun.

Meanwhile, the APC leadership in the state berated Amosun for his comment that the incumbent governor did not win the 2019 governorship election. The party said Amosun was suffering from “political amnesia and out-of-office loneliness.” The party, in a statement issued by its Publicity Secretary, Tunde Oladunjoye, said the ex-governor needed prayers and called on the general public to pray for him over the comment that the governor won through rigging.

Amosun had shortly after he received an award from the Abeokuta Club during its 50th anniversary said Abiodun won through rigging in 2019 and that those who rigged the election for the governor had apologised to him.

Reacting to the claim, the APC described the ex-governor’s claim as “an after-lunch belching of a man suffering from political amnesia and loneliness.” The statement read in part, “The attention of our party has been drawn to a statement reportedly credited to the immediate past governor of Ogun State and the chief promoter of the APM, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. The quoted statement was not only an insult to the psyche of the people of Ogun State, but also a sad indication that the former governor has yet to purge himself of extreme arrogance and intolerance that were his trademarks, which earned him suspension from our party, even as a sitting governor.

“The APC, therefore, calls on the general public, and particularly our esteemed members, to pity and pray for the former governor as he obviously suffers from political amnesia, loneliness and absolute lack of touch with reality. There is absolutely no truth in the specious utterance of the former governor, who is obviously still sulking from the electoral defeat of his surrogate party in 2019. Our party and candidate not only won fair and square, the victory of Prince Dapo Abiodun was also attested to by his co-contestants, many of whom later joined the APC and are still in the APC.

“Never in the history of governorship elections in Ogun State have candidates of other parties so instantaneously congratulated and visited the governor-elect as it happened in the case of Governor Dapo Abiodun, whose Iperu country home hosted candidates and leaders of other parties, including late Prince Buruji Kashamu, Otunba Rotimi Paseda, Mr Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, among others.”

The party noted that it was on record that many of the opposition figures in the past like the former deputy governor of Ogun State, Alhaja Salmat Badru, and others served in the Economic Transition Committee chaired by Mr Tunde Lemo, which was set up by the current governor immediately after the election. It also recalled that the candidate of the APM had challenged the results of the election at the tribunal in Abeokuta and lost.

“His (APM governorship candidate) ramshackle petition was dismissed. While confirming the victory of Governor Abiodun in the Saturday, March 9, 2019 election, the tribunal led by Justice Yusuf Halilu, in its judgment, stated, ‘This petition does not only fail, it is destined to fail, it fails and hereby dismissed’.

“Not satisfied, the APM and its candidate went on appeal at the Court of Appeal, Ibadan, and later at the Supreme Court, where they also lost. It is remarkable that in all the petition and court cases, the judgments were unanimously passed without any dissenting voice from the tribunal members and the judges at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

“If the APM was as popular as the former governor wants us to believe, he would have contested his senatorial election on the platform of the APM and not on the platform of the APC. We recollect vividly that it took the support of Prince Dapo Abiodun and the open appeal of our father and leader, Chief Olusegun Osoba, who pleaded during his visits to all the wards in Ogun Central Senatorial District that our members should consider the interest of the party by voting for Amosun,” the state APC statement further read.

Amosun’s comment on Governor Abiodun’s election in 2019 had attracted different reactions from the governor, his aides and the party. The governor, who took the fight to the ex-governor’s doorstep, went for the grand finale of the Abeokuta Club’s anniversary and responded with another bang.

Abiodun said Ogun State was not anybody’s father’s inheritance and called on the people of the state to ignore his predecessor, insisting that he would not take issues with him.

The governor said, “I will not be distracted by any person or persons who have a problem with self-delusion. I will not be distracted by any person who does not appreciate that Ogun State is not anybody’s father’s inheritance. We are all stakeholders in this commonwealth called Ogun State. I am not going to take issues with anyone that wants to play God; I will leave them to God; God can deal with whoever is challenging His authority and wants to play God.

“All I can say is that what we stand for in Ogun State is an administration that is committed to providing purposeful leadership and purposeful infrastructural development across the length and breadth of the state.”

Abiodun expressed his disappointment that a sitting governor in 2019 would cry that he was rigged out during, saying, “How can we that are on the outside take on an incumbent and then be accused of rigging out an incumbent in the same party? Anyone can explain their failure whichever way they like, anyone can also begin to pant and threaten that they will do whatever.”

The governor’s response to Amosun’s statement did not go without reactions, with some asking him to prepare to leave the Oke-Mosan seat in 2023.

An expert in international relations and comparative politics, Dr Lateef Jinadu, slammed Amosun over his comment on Abiodun, saying, “The vituperation of Ibikunle Amosun in Abeokuta was the climax of his age-long anti-democratic tendencies. This latest display of crude ideology and sheer propaganda in his desperate move to come back to power in the state through the back door did not come as a surprise to many.

“It is not news that Ogun State under Amosun was a banana republic in the firm grip of a shylock and unrepentant despot, until emancipation came through the 2019 governorship election that produced a cool, calm and collected governor against his docile surrogate, one Adekunle Akinlade. Coming now to challenge the free will of the people of Ogun State, who voted for Abiodun with utmost determination despite intimidation by the Amosun’s government and the affirmation by the apex court on the credibility of the poll, is simply bizarre and thoughtless.”

Defending Amosun, a public affairs analyst, Dr John Oshibanjo, explained that the ex-governor’s statement was not strange in Ogun politics, saying Osoba had accused both former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Amosun of rigging him out in 2003. Oshinbanjo said in a statement, “It was indeed Chief Olusegun Osoba in his characteristic nature who stirred the hornet’s nest by throwing challenges to former President Obasanjo and Senator Amosun.

“Hear what Chief Osoba said, ‘I can never forgive Obasanjo and Amosun for my 2003 governorship loss. In fact, they rigged it against me’.

“Osoba also accused Amosun openly of concentrating his infrastructural development in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. Maybe some fellows wanted Senator Amosun to keep quiet like a pet dog? No, he had to respond to the uncharitable allegations of Chief Olusegun Osoba. On the premise of Chief Osoba’s allegations that Amosun and Obasanjo rigged him out in 2003, Senator Amosun pointedly told him how impossible for an ‘ordinary senator’ without executive or electoral powers to rig Osoba out of government.

“Amosun further said rather, it was Chief Osoba and 13 others who collaborated and rigged the APM out in 2019 when the APM actually won the election convincingly and indeed those who participated in the electoral fraud had apologised to him. It’s unfortunate that people are too fast to judge without understanding the nitty-gritty and foundation of a discourse. Like it or not, Senator Amosun remains a political colossus and indeed, he has carved a strong haven for himself and cult-like supporters. He is indeed a political force in Ogun State.”

Adding his voice to the matter, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, who hails from Ogun Central, where Amosun comes from, said the former governor had no political influence that could threaten Abiodun’s second term ambition. Oluomo added that Abiodun had proved his mettle by having at least one project in each local government area.

He said, “The former governor (Amosun), to me, is not a threat. Even when he was governor, he was unable to stop Dapo Abiodun from becoming governor. I cannot see him playing God this time around. More so, the man (Abiodun) has proved his mettle, he does not make noise. There is no local government that you go in the state that you will not see one project that is going on. I don’t even consider him (Amosun) as a threat.”

On the influence of Amosun in Ogun Central, Oluomo said the people in the senatorial district were too sophisticated for the former governor to hoodwink.

He said, “Nobody can claim to be the sole owner of Ogun Central. We are very sophisticated. Which influence does he (Amosun) have? Let him come out and show us what he did for us in Ifo 2 in his eight years governance. In my constituency, he did nothing for eight years. In Constituency 2, he started an unfinished project which later became a problem that Governor Abiodun is now going there to complete. Is it Ewekoro where he first came out as a senator that he wants to point that he has done something that can make them to vote for him?”

While reacting to the belief that the outcome of Osun State election has forced Abiodun to begin the construction of roads and others, Oluomo faulted the insinuation. He said, “Osun election happened July 16; was it in July 16 that he did what he had done across the state? It is not like that.

“In terms of what he can point at, go to 20 local government areas and 236 wards in Ogun State, you will see renovation of primary health centres which has not happened many years ago. Look at schools; both primary and secondary schools, you will see yellow roofs, see renovation, see new reconstruction. Sincerely speaking, the man (Abiodun) is not making noise about what he is doing.”

Nevertheless, there is no gainsaying the fact that despite the bickering among stakeholders in the APC, only the people of Ogun State will decide if Abiodun will get a second term in office or Amosun’s supporters will have the upper hand in the 2023 governorship election in the state.

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